ST CROIX, US Virgin Islands (CMC) — Former powerhouses Barbados avoided an unprecedented first-round elimination from the senior men's Caribbean Zonal Volleyball Association (CAZOVA) Championship when they beat Martinique in four sets here Wednesday night.
The 10-time champions seemed on their way out of the competition when they dropped the first set but bounced back to win the next three to pull off a 26-28, 25-20, 25-19, 25-22 victory in just over an hour-and-a-half at the Ronald Charles Gymnasium.
With the win, the Barbadians finished second in Group A on seven points and booked their spot in the quarter-finals of the competition yesterday where they played hosts USVI.
Jamaica, meanwhile, experienced contrasting fortunes but still managed to secure their berth in the next round of the tournament.
They went down to defending champions Trinidad and Tobago, 17-25, 25-20, 19-25, 25-17, 13-15, in a thrilling five-setter to finish third in Group A.
Like Barbados, they finished the preliminaries with a 1-2 record and faced French side Guadeloupe in yesterday's quarter-finals.
Trinidad and Tobago had no such issues as they marched into Friday's semi-finals along with the Bahamas, who beat the USVI, 25-20, 20-25, 25-16, 25-15.
Barbados needed everything they could muster to avoid losing all their preliminary games for the first time ever in the biennial tournament.
Their effort was led by Shawn Simpson who slammed 17 points, veteran Fabian Cox who scored 15 and and Daran Gill, who got nine points.
"We are improving in each match we play and... our entire team showed up and did what was required of them," captain Jamal Nedd said.
"We knew we had to win by 3-0 or 3-1 to be certain of qualifying for the quarter-finals and our setting, blocking and passing was on par today, and we now look forward to the next phase of the competition."
Jamaica's clash with T&T brought some fireworks, as it showcased two of the strongest sides in the competition.
The Jamaicans were undermined by Nolan Tash's 25 points, while Europe-based Marc-Anthony Honore added 13 points and Simon Blake, 10.
Ryck Webb led Jamaica with 17 points, Conaradio Taylor got 11 while Mark Lewis added 10.
Jamaica's captain Dellan Brown said he was pleased with how his side had played despite the defeat.
"T&T has the best team in the region and we have a great deal of respect for them but at the same time we came out to put up a fight and get a positive result because our backs were against the wall with regards to qualification for the quarter-finals," Brown pointed out.
"Credit to our guys who have shown a great togetherness as our priority was to take it step by step and once we won a set from T&T it lifted us quite a bit, but we came up short with regards to the win."